The 2021 NBA season is going to be bigger and better than ever for Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)!
For those that are first time players, or returning players that may be a little rusty, see below for the points system of NBA matches on Draftstars:
- Point Scored = 1 point
- Missed Field Goal = -0.25 points
- Missed Free Throw = -0.25 points
- Assist = 1.5 points
- Rebound = 1.25 points
- Turnover = -0.5 points
- Steal = 2 points
- Block = 2 points
- 3 Point Made Bonus = 1 point
- Double-Double = 2 points
- Triple-Double = 2 points
You have an allocated salary to spend on your DFS team which you can’t exceed, so you really do need to think and evaluate your players! This also makes strategy very interesting. Do you spend a huge amount on a player like James Harden and leave yourself a heavily reduced salary for your remaining players, or do you balance things out with 3-4 middle tier players that are reliable but might not go off?
Lots of player movement during this off season has made it extremely difficult to keep track of all the moves. Read on for a summary on each team, with standout players that are primed to have a big season statistically, as well as players that are great options for plug and play during the right circumstances, and finally, the Darkhorse players that could be candidates for breakout seasons!
If you play season-long DFS leagues with your mates this will be a useful read, but if you really want to put your NBA knowledge to the test, head over to Draftstars and enter daily contests where millions of dollars in prize money will be won this season – or head to PlayUp and bet on the matches, with individual player performance markets to bet on as well.
Led by Luka Doncic, the Mavericks are the team to watch this year! The addition of Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Aussie rookie Josh Green are some excellent pickups.
Luka Doncic – His 1st to 2nd year increases were amazing, going from 21.2ppg, 7.8rpg, 6.0 apg and 2.3 made threes >> 28.8ppg, 9.4rpg, 8.8apg, 2.8 threes. It’s entirely possible that Doncic averages over 30 a game this year and does what only Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook have achieved by averaging a triple double. If I had to rank the top guards in DFS this year, it would really be between Doncic, Harden and Curry. Doncic is probably the safest pick of the three, and one you should consider building your Draftstars teams around when the Mavs play. In terms of his ceiling for single game output, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Doncic put up 45-14-16 type lines, particularly in the early part of the season while Porzingis is sidelined.
Kristaps Porzingis – The Unicorn had a big season as Doncic’s #2. It’s important to note, Porzingis will be sidelined with a knee injury to start the year (even more usage for Doncic in the early going). So, don’t make the mistake of playing him when he won’t be suiting up. He should be back on court some time in early 2021, but he will be good for 20+ points, a couple of blocks, 8-10 rebounds and a couple threes. Quite an elite option when playing at his best.
PLUG AND PRAY
Tim Hardaway Jr – He averaged 18.1ppg last season, with very little peripheral stats, but with Porzingis set to miss the start of the season he should be the clear 2nd option on offense. You could get lucky if you start him as he can easily goes off for 25-30+ points, so he’s worth a look. The addition of Josh Richardson may take a few touches from him, but he will have games where he goes nuts. Pray it’s the times you start him!
Notable mention: Boban Marjanovic – if he gets 20 mins he can put up ridiculous numbers.
Willie Cauley-Stein – This #6 overall pick had a few promising years in Sacramento between 2017-2019 where he hovered around that 12-8-2-1 average with good fg% but he’s become a bit of a dinosaur, as his game doesn’t suit the direction the league has been heading. This is highlighted by him getting just 12 minutes per game in 13 appearances with Dallas last season. There will be an opportunity in the early part of the season to play him with Porzingis sidelined, and Dwight Powell dealing with injuries of his own. So if you are going to play him, do so in the first few weeks, but after that relegate him to the scrap heap of players you don’t go near.
Does anyone still “Trust The Process”?
In a way it’s good for the league that half a decade of tanking and accumulating lottery picks has not been rewarded with a championship (so far anyway). This team feels like it’s about 1 season away from being dismantled. There are some fantasy juggernauts in Philly that will be popular plays so let’s go through them!
Joel Embiid – Embiid will be amongst the most expensive centers to choose from, for good reason too. For his career he has averaged 23.9ppg, 11.5rpg, 3.1apg, 0.8stl, 1.8blk. He should be good for those numbers this season, perhaps a touch higher in points but his blocks have been trending down a little at just 1.3bpg last season. Consider pairing him with Simmons as they get the lion’s share of usage in this team, especially when the 76ers are playing a team with weak interior defense.
Ben Simmons – This guy has averaged around 16-8-8 with elite level steals in each of his seasons. The turnovers are a touch high, but he can easily get you a triple double which negates 4 turnovers in the Draftstars scoring system. Horford is now gone, and he facilitated a lot of the offense for the 76ers, so expect Simmons to nudge his assists to as high as 8.5 or 9.0 per game this season.
PLUG AND PRAY
Tobias Harris – Harris is a really good all-rounder. He averaged 20-7-3 with threes and chips in with the defensive stats occasionally too. He is normally pretty consistent, but it can be a bit flukey getting him active when he drops 30+ points so cross your fingers if you’re starting him and hope for a big game.
Danny Green – He may have a solid statistical game once every month or so where he gets threes steals and blocks, but his contributions don’t always show up on the box score– putting pressure on perimeter shooters, getting defensive win shares and things like that aren’t scoring categories in Draftstars. 1.3 steals and 0.5 blocks aren’t enough of a draw anymore. He was a decent low-end play during the 2014 season with the Spurs but now he’s way too inconsistent to look at most of the time.
After blowing a 3-1 lead against Denver this team didn’t really make too many offseason moves last season.
Donovan Mitchell – Spida Mitchell is a high volume scorer and will also chip in with his usual 4 rebounds and 4 assists with threes and some steals. For him to be a value play in DFS you will need to start him at the right time and look for him to score 35+ points, he’s been known to drop 45-50 on occasion too so there’s some definite upside with him exceeding expectations from time to time.
Rudy Gobert – Big boards, blocks, and somewhere between 14-17ppg on high shooting percentage. Will get you extra Draftstars points for his double-doubles, which roll around like clockwork. It’s hard to get the same output from Gobert as someone like Jokic who gets higher points and assists, but at a cheaper price there will be times where it will be worth using Gobert to take up the remainder of your salary in the C position.
PLUG AND PRAY
Mike Conley – Super inconsistent last season. He seems to also dampen the value of Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson, but when he goes nuts, he is capable of putting up some elite DFS stats for your team. Pay attention to Conley, because he can be the difference in your team if you play him at the right time. He had 20+ points and 4+ assists 13 times in his 47 games last season.
Derrick Favors – He’s agreed to sign back with his old team the Jazz. The last time he played for Utah he did manage to put up decent averages in his 23.2 minutes per game, but a resurgence doesn’t seem likely because he will be in a crowded frontcourt where Gobert gets the big minutes in the middle, and although the Jazz may try out pushing Bogdanovic to the 3 spot, it feels far more likely that Favors acts primarily as Gobert’s backup. Modern NBA isn’t built around having multiple players that don’t hit threes (Favors and Gobert made just 1 three pointer combined last season). Any “Twin Tower” experiment with Gobert and Favors playing together will be short lived.
New Orleans Pelicans
This young team will be exciting to watch and has a lot of nice DFS prospects!
Zion Williamson – Who knows what the ceiling is with Zion? If his large frame and explosive leaping ability doesn’t do too much damage on those knees, he will be a top 10 option in a full slate of minutes this year. It’s not unthinkable that he could be putting up 30-10 with assists, steals and blocks this year if everything goes right. I’m expecting a huge year from Zion and possibly top 10 overall in terms of DFS output.
Brandon Ingram – Last season was his breakout year as he improved his shooting numbers dramatically. Was it a “contract year player” stepping up, or will he sustain it this year? I’m banking he will be putting up 22-25 points per game this year, and he is capable of dropping 40+ so keep him on your radar for DFS purposes. There is some risk that he takes a step back now that he’s signed a huge contract (5 years $158 Million).
PLUG AND PRAY
Lonzo Ball – He’s not quite as inconsistent as he used to be, but it’s still a bit of a lucky dip trying to make sense of what Lonzo will put up from one game to the next. If his three is dropping at a good clip, he will chip in rebs and assists as well, so consider playing him in one of your guard spots! On a good day he could be giving you 20 points, 10 rebs, 12 ast with steals and threes. He’s been handed the reins at the point guard position now that Jrue Holiday is gone, so with a more clearly defined position and much higher usage in an up-tempo offense he could be a source of really nice lines in the 2021 season.
Eric Bledsoe – It’s possible that his numbers spike this season. Playing for a young team he may want to assert himself early, but the trajectory of his career is not looking too good. His best years were with the Suns, and at his peak he was averaging 21-5-6 in 2016. Last year with the Bucks he put up 14.9, 4.6, 5.4 which is still decent, but he’s potentially splitting time with JJ Redick now as well, I wouldn’t touch Bledsoe unless he has a big start to the season.
The Suns added CP3 as their major off-season addition, how will this affect things for DFS?
Devin Booker – He’s primed for a big year and will be a solid chance to score between 26-30 ppg. Booker also chips in assists so will be a good source of points in DFS. CP3 is a distributor, but so was Ricky Rubio, so it shouldn’t affect him too much, Chris Paul is more ball dominant so Booker may have to play off the ball more which could drop his assist numbers a touch compared to last season, but the improvement in scoring and efficiency should counter-balance that. He does have the upside that he can give you 50+ points in a game, so it makes sense to play him in large contests too.
Deandre Ayton – Look for Ayton to have a big year playing next to CP3. Chris Paul is used to lobbing the ball to the middle, having spent years playing with Deandre Jordan and Clint Capela, and could be the perfect fit to help Ayton crack the 20 points per game mark this year. 20-12 with blocks is a definite possibility for Ayton this season, with the occasional gem of a line thrown in where he gives you a 20-20 game on a great fg%
PLUG AND PRAY
Mikal Bridges – Bridges is capable of hitting some really nice lines for you and it is likely he will be cheap. If you need someone low-end that can get 15+ points with steals and a handful of assists, Bridges is a quality option, but you’ll probably need to keep close track of his good games because they come in waves and he’s very up and down.
Chris Paul – I know, it’s pretty crazy to suggest avoiding a high usage, distributor point guard coming into a fast paced offense – but time has to catch up to CP3 at some point, and my feeling is that the 35-year-old Chris Paul could be headed for a down year in 2021. He did manage to put up 17.6ppg, 5.0rpg, 6.7apg, 1.6stl last season and I could be way off on this one, but nearly 36,000 minutes and over 1000 games played in the NBA tell me that CP3 will dip this year. I’m predicting sub-15 ppg for the first time in his 16-year career. If Chris Paul is the same price as someone like Jamal Murray – I’m taking Murray.
What a loaded team! Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic – all great options!
Damian Lillard – He had stretches last season where he was playing like a league MVP. He should be good for around 30+ ppg and 8+ assists like he did last season. He also made over 4 threes per game, this guy is a gun. When he starts dropping those 50-60-point games lock him in because he can go on some insane runs of hot-shooting games.
CJ McCollum – 20-4-4 averages are what you can bank on with McCollum. He’s done it like clockwork in his last 5 seasons. His ppg could come back slightly from his 22.2 per game last year with the addition of Covington as another perimeter player, but the effect should be negligible. McCollum on a good day will give you 35-40 points and a handful of rebounds and assists.
PLUG AND PRAY
Robert Covington – Huge defensive stats with threes, and a nice contribution in the boards most games too. This guy should be popular play in DFS as he is the premier forward on this team and he will get a huge allotment of minutes ahead of Nassir Little and the injured Zach Collins.
Jusuf Nurkic – Nurkic could almost qualify as a stud this season. The departure of Hassan Whiteside frees him up to be the uncontested premier bigman for the Blazers this season. He has 20-20 potential and is the type of player that can achieve the elusive 5×5 type of line. I feel like there is always some apprehension for a player coming off such a grotesque lower leg injury like Nurkic had a couple of years back (do NOT youtube it if you have a weak stomach), but if he can stay healthy he should be a source of some very big lines this year.
Carmelo Anthony – The positives: He had a resurgence last season and his exile from the league finally ended which was great to see. The negatives: He’s another year older and more importantly the addition of Covington. It’s possible he carves out a role as a guy that scores between 10-13 points per game with mid-tier rebounds, but it’s also possible that he drops off this season.
A boring team of DFS prospects, however Sabonis does have upside.
Domantas Sabonis – Averages for 2019-20: 18.5ppg, 12.4rpg, 5.0apg >> this guy is Bam Adebayo without the defensive stats. He’s increased his points, rebounds, assists in each of his seasons so far, and has shot between 51% and 59% in every season besides his rookie year where he was a sub-40% shooter somehow. Sabonis is trending up in a big way so don’t sleep on him if he’s in an affordable price range on Draftstars!
None – There’s no other player on this lineup that you can really bank on for big numbers.
PLUG AND PRAY
TJ Warren, Myles Turner, Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon – All of these guys carry a fair amount of risk when you play them. Turner is notorious for randomly putting up duds and gems and TJ Warren could give you 11 points, or 40 points depending on your luck!
Everyone else – Aside from when Bitadze or some other player gets a spot start, there’s not a lot else to really like here. Jeremy Lamb is not appealing coming off the bench either.
Ja Morant will be an all star this year. Jonas Valanciunas will put up behemoth stats while Jaren Jackson is sidelined.
Ja Morant – Rookie point guards usually need time to adapt to the NBA level of play, Morant didn’t. He was a stud right out of the gates, and there’s a good sign that he will follow up his 17.8, 3.9, 7.3 averages with a big 2nd season and become a perennial all-star. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him average 21-5-9 this year. He will have several 30-10 type games this season as he tends to shoot few threes so his fg% is high for a point guard.
Jonas Valanciunas – He’s going to have a huge start to the season and will be a great source of points and rebounds. He does have the potential for nice all-around games, but it is those lofty rebound totals when he’s pushing for 20-20 games where he will really be a great asset to DFS teams.
PLUG AND PRAY
Dillon Brooks – I’ve never been a huge fan of his for fantasy or DFS purposes, but he did find some consistency as a 20-point scorer for long stretches last season. If you do decide to roll the dice on him, most of his DFS points come from his scoring – so if his shot isn’t falling it’s pretty safe to say he will give you a dud.
Kyle Anderson – He did show some promise when he was with the Spurs, but he’s burnt me enough times, so I have given up on playing him now.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are officially in draft-pick accumulation mode!
Out: CP3, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, Dennis Schroder In: Al Horford and a bunch of scrubs
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Big time. Look at this line up, it’s the SGA show in 2020-21, lock him in every time OKC plays, until his price gets too high to justify starting him, because his minutes and usage are going to be through the roof. Don’t be surprised if he gets an all star nod this year due to the stats he will be putting up. 25-7-8 with good supporting stats won’t be out of the question this season, highlighted by the occasional 40+ point game. Major breakout alert!
None – There’s no other player that qualifies as a stud on this team.
PLUG AND PRAY
Al Horford – Yes, his best days are behind him, but look at this lineup? Where else are the stats going to come from. He’s got no real competition in the middle, he’s a distributor and can rebound. He will only need 12-15ppg to be a quality contributor in DFS, keep him on your radar with some potentially big lines mixed in with the occasional dud.
Hard to say – When a team goes through this big of a change it creates a vacuum and it’s hard to know which player is going to fill the void and step up statistically. OKC isn’t going to average 45ppg as a team this season, so the stats will have to come from somewhere. Look at Devonte Graham last season – he went from averaging 4.7ppg to suddenly putting up 18.2ppg and 7.5asts. Ariza and Muscala could potentially be decent this year, and guys like Kenrich Williams and Hamidou Diallo have shown flashes in the past, but it’s one of those ones where you need to keep your eye on which player rises to the top of the heap and be ready to pounce and activate them in your lineup. Diallo (the 2019 NBA dunk champion) could provide a lot of excitement on a team lacking playoff aspirations, so don’t be surprised if he gets a lot of minutes and sees an uptick this season.
It’s a great tactic if you get to the end of your lineup with $3,500 left in salary, to take a flyer on some minimal cost player from a team like this, because there’s a chance they play 35 mins and put up a decent line with 25-30+ Draftstars points to give you a big boost.
The Hawks are actually building a decent team with some of their recent additions – let’s dig into their brand-new squad!
Trae Young – Young is already an elite fantasy option capable of putting up 40+ points with elite assists and threes. His game is still improving, and his arrow is pointed up, but the addition of Bogdanovic and Gallinari could dampen his chances of increasing his ~30ppg average. Either way he is locked and loaded as the captain of this ship and should put up big numbers. 40 points and 10 assists with loads of threes and some steals is what you want to see from Young.
John Collins – Collins had a major step forward statistically last season. The blocks were a nice touch and added to his great DFS value which is anchored in his high points and rebounds totals. Look for him to be a 20-10 threat again this season.
PLUG AND PRAY
Danilo Gallinari & Clint Capela – Both players are capable of decent games. It’ll be interesting to see what they do in this new look team. Of the two I think Gallinari is the safer play, but Capela has a good track history of being a double-double machine so keep him on your radar too. If Dedmon could put up huge lines with this team in the past, then Capela should have some amazing potential too.
Rajon Rondo – He was a nice option at times last season, but those days could be gone. Trae Young will be playing 35-40 mins per game. Splitting the scraps with Brandon Goodwin for the remaining PG mins, or hoping he gets some time at SG is not often going to be a winning strategy. The name will draw some interest, but don’t find yourself in the 2-3% of teams that activate Rondo hoping for a near triple double at a budget price. You’re more likely to get an egg or a DNP: Coach Decision this season.
Check back later this week for part 3 of our NBA DFS Preview where we look at the last 10 teams on the list. In the meantime, head over to PlayUp.com.au if you are looking to have a bet on any of these teams to win the Championship!